Anti-Racism: Books By Black Authors

Anti-Racism books by Black Authors

If you want to further your anti-racism journey, we’ve got a list of books to help you with that! The Red Couch Book Club has compiled a list of must-read books about racism, social justice and faith written by Black authors.

The Red Couch has been reading Black authors and books around racial justice for years. In case you missed a book or wanted to dig deeper, we created a space here to gather the books and discussions we’ve already had. 

If this is your first experience digging into explicit texts on racial justice, we recommend you start with stories and memoirs. Expand your reading rotation to include voices outside your dominant norms. If you’re farther on the journey, we hope our recommendations will expand your knowledge and understanding. 

As you read through the descriptions, go with whichever title sparks your interest. As you join this journey of anti-racism, there are a plethora of authors and activists who have gifted us their words and work. We’d also recommend doing the work with a friend. Choose a book together to discuss and grapple through the hard questions.

We hope this list will support your anti-racism journey and propel you to action. More importantly, don’t forget that the work of anti-racism won’t end with a book or a list of resources. This is the work of a lifetime. We’re all on this journey together.

 


Books for Beginners

These books are perfect for those just joining the conversation. They help frame and shift normalized perspectives.

Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Brokenhearted World by Osheta Moore

I just sent this book to my cousin who was looking for resources as she begins her active journey toward anti-racism. Moore’s heart for peace and justice is unmatched. She refuses to vilify either side but instead chooses to be a peacemaker rather than a peacekeeper. Moore’s presence on Instagram toward White Peacemaking has been incredibly helpful to my own journey. (And bonus: She’s a friend of SheLoves!)

Follow Osheta Moore on Instagram.

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born in South Africa during Apartheid, Noah is able to highlight the depth and absurdity of racist structures as only a seasoned comedian can. This book is both powerful and lighthearted enough to disarm the reader. Noah also draws connections between the systemic structures he was raised in and similarities in the United States. I’d especially recommend this book for anyone who feels a deep discomfort in the idea that white people might benefit from racist systems.

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Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

A public theologian and former professor at Duke Theological Seminary, Cleveland brings a depth of research and questioning to this book. I’ve been hearing arguments that “we’re all one in Christ” to diminish conversations around race and Cleveland challenges those remarks head-on. Weaving both psychology and Christianity, Cleveland looks at the reasons humans create division as a survival mechanism and what that means in a modern world.

Introduction by Leigh Kramer

Discussion by Alia Joy

Follow Christena Cleveland on Instagram.


Books for the Next Step

These books dive deeper into the discussion and some foundational work is helpful as the authors assume a certain amount of work has been done.

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right by Lisa Sharon Harper

Activist and historian, Lisa Sharon Harper dismantles the idea of original sin and depravity in the Genesis narrative. Harper reclaims the word shalom and makes the case that God declared the world’s foundations good. Harper is a natural teacher and she graciously brings her readers into a discussion of reframing and unlearning harmful lessons.

Introduction by Nicole Walters

Discussion by Liana Norheim

Follow Lisa Sharon Harper on Instagram.

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

This foundational memoir about Stevenson’s early career as a defense lawyer in Alabama breaks open the injustice of America’s prison systems, specifically on death row. Stevenson weaves his own story into the greater narrative of prison reform.

Note: For the month of June, the film adaptation has been made available for free across streaming platforms.

Introduction by Leigh Kramer

Discussion by Cara Meredith

Follow Equal Justice Initiative on Instagram.

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I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Austin Channing Brown’s memoir of being a Black woman with a white man’s name is a powerful telling of what “diversity” looks like when it is confined to a quote rather than core values change. From private schools to the working world, Brown brings her readers into a world that continually falls short of inclusion. This is especially timely as many organizations are coming to terms with failures in diversity and inclusion––how can this become a sustainable change?

Follow Austin Channing Brown on Instagram.


Books to Dig Deeper

These last two books are for those who are ready to really dive in and dismantle ideologies that have been normalized.

Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength by Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes

Dr. Walker-Barnes examines the cultural burdens Black Women must bear when society constrains them to stereotypes of strong or independent or maternal. How do these burdens shape Black women’s physical and emotional health? Walker-Barnes looks at these challenges through the lens of history, theology, and social constructs.

Introduction by Ruthie Johnson

Discussion by Osheta Moore

Follow Chanequa Walker-Barnes on Instagram.

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The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby

Scholar and theologian Jemar Tisby dismantles specific points in history in which the American Church as a whole could have taken a stand against racist and segregationist policies. The church had a choice to part from the politics of slavery and Jim Crow but chose not to. We are at a moment in history when churches can make similar choices: Which side of the narrative will they choose?

Follow Jemar Tisby on Instagram.

I recognize that this list is long and may be overwhelming. As you read through the descriptions, go with whichever title sparks your interest. As you join this journey of anti-racism, there are a plethora of authors and activists who have gifted us their words and work. This is a place to start. I’d also recommend doing the work with a friend. Choose a book together to discuss and grapple through the hard questions. Again, anti-racism is the work of a lifetime and we are so glad you’re joining us in this journey!

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